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IN FOCUS: Website Payment Acceptance

What Types of Payments Should Your Website Accept?

If you’re selling things on a website, whether it’s products on an online store or booking your time as a consultant, you’ll need to think carefully about the types of online payments you’re going to accept. Fortunately, these days, it’s relatively simple to set a website up to receive payments, and you’ll have lots of options to choose from—but that doesn’t mean your choice will be easy. You’ll still need to be selective about the types of payments you take, and work to understand the advantages and disadvantages of those payments.

Payments to Consider

These are some of the most common payment types you’ll have to choose from:

  • Credit/debit cards. Despite the increasing number of payment options available, most consumers still prefer credit cards to pay for practically everything. Thankfully, almost any website builder you use and almost any payment processing resource you rely on will offer easy support for credit and debit cards. The biggest variable you’re likely to encounter here is transaction costs.
  • PayPal. PayPal is another common payment method, and a relatively easy one to set up. You’ll need to offer this one if you want to stay competitive with your contemporaries.
  • Digital wallets. Digital wallets, like Google Pay and Apple Pay, are still in the early stages of consumer adoption. That’s both a risk and an opportunity for you; if you accept these types of payments, you could be seen as an early adopter and set yourself apart from the crowd, but you might be limited in how many people can use them.
  • ACH deposits. ACH debit transactions are less common for B2C online stores, but are still an important option to consider. If your customers are setting up recurring deposits or are transferring large sums of money, it’s definitely worth pursuing.
  • Gift cards. If you want to increase sales and keep improving customer retention, you could consider offering gift cards for your store. This process is a little more complicated than some of the others on this list, but could be worth it if it means nabbing that extra revenue.
  • Cryptocurrency. There are already tons of companies accepting Bitcoin as payment. Cryptocurrency is still a relatively new currency, and a new system of payment, so you’ll face the same advantages and disadvantages as adopting digital wallets—and depending on which exchange system you use, the costs could range from reasonable to egregious.

Why It Matters

So why does this choice matter in the first place?

  • Customer convenience. Customers like having a range of options, and some strongly prefer one method over another. If you offer a preferred method to a given customer, they’ll be more inclined to follow through on their purchase—and come back for future purchases.
  • Demographic appeal. If you offer a niche type of payment that appeals to a specific demographic, you may be able to win that demographic over from the competition. For example, digital wallets and cryptocurrencies tend to have dedicated, loyal fanbases; fans here will be more willing to shop in your store, instead of a competitors, if you offer them.
  • Thought leadership. If you’re offering a wider range of payment options, or are offering high-tech payment types that your competitors aren’t touching, it could make your brand seem like more of a leader in the industry. Granted, this factor may not make or break your brand’s reputation, but it could help steer your reputation in one direction or the other.
  • Processing costs and complexity. You’ll also need to think carefully about the processing costs associated with each payment option, and with the merchant services you’re considering enlisting to help you process those payments. Small fees, in cents per transaction, may not seem like much, but as your business scales, these costs will become much more significant (and potentially compromise your profitability).

Ultimately, your choice in accepted payments has the power to dictate the future of your business, for better or worse. You can always add or remove payment options as you discover their effectiveness, but it’s best to get started with the most efficient possible lineup. Do your research carefully before you make the final call.

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